By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Construction to expand Interstate 35W through the Alliance corridor in Fort Worth could begin again as early as this summer, after the Texas Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to let the project move forward.

The final segment of work on the interstate would rebuild the regular lanes and add managed toll lanes from just north of the U.S. 287 interchange, where work was completed last year, more than seven miles north to Eagle Parkway.

The state portion of the $662 million cost is expected to fall between $28 million to $43 million. Most of that will be to acquire right of way along the corridor. None of it will be used to build any of the toll portions of the project. The rest of the cost is expected to be covered by North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners, the private group developing the toll project.

A hesitancy to use state dollars for toll roads held up the final segment of the expansion of the highway.

Russell Laughlin, the executive vice president of Hillwood, which manages development in Alliance, and also the President of the 35W Coalition, said the concerns reflected the politics over toll roads and debt around the state, but the issue had simply run its course.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was in Austin for the hearing. She had announced in her annual state of the city address last week that the chairman of the commission had assured her the project would move forward.

J. Bruce Bugg referenced the noticeable difference in traffic between the sections where toll lanes exist now, and where they end.

“You get to the end of 3B, and it’s like there’s a fence right there,” he said, referencing the 3B part of the project finished in 2018. “Everything’s backed up, and today we are taking action to alleviate that backup.”

Average speeds on the 10-mile section completed have increased by 20 percent. Congestion has dropped by 75 percent.

Work on the final section could be completed within two years. The agreement also requires the developer to add a third general purpose traffic lane along the highway by 2040.